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The customer gets to play designer at Amanu, a new custom sandal line by stylist Anita Patrickson

Stylist Anita Patrickson is bringing a dose of Italian style to Los Angeles with Amanu, a new custom sandal line inspired by Italy’s made-to-measure approach.

“People who’ve been to Capri are like, ‘Finally! I’m so happy that I don’t have to go to Italy just to get a pair of sandals anymore,’” Patrickson said during an interview at her West Hollywood pop-up shop, which opened last month.

Working with Julianne Hough, Eiza González and Ruby Rose, Patrickson is used to juggling a variety of styles and tastes. And that’s why Amanu allows the customer to play designer. You can choose from 12 styles (10 flats and two heels) with various colorways, fabrications and materials (leather, velvet, feathers and faux python).

“Each shoe has a personality,” Patrickson said. “You find what speaks to you and you make it your own.” After customers select the materials for their sandals, which are lined with leather from Florence, Italy, the design is handcrafted within 30 minutes by on-site cobblers.

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“The heart and soul of Amanu are the shoemakers,” Patrickson said. “When I thought of the concept for this, I had this gross generalization that I was going to have a room full of old Italian men who would be hammering away.”

She ended up recruiting four artisans in their 20s from across the country to work in her pop-up shop. Patrickson also enlisted the help of a Capri-based cobbler who relocated to Los Angeles to train the group for two months.

Patrickson wanted Amanu’s price point to be more affordable than most designer sandals. “I would always get mad when I’d go into Jimmy Choo or Giuseppe [Zanotti], and it was, like, $600 for three bits of leather,” she said, noting that Amanu sandals are priced from $160 to $275. “It’s like, ‘Come on, guys. We know what you’re doing.’ I felt really strongly about being reasonable.”

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As for starting the footwear label, Patrickson said she had long been looking for a design project to sink her stilettos into. “The natural progression as a stylist is to create something,” she said, adding that inspiration struck while she was at a wedding in Capri in 2014.

“Right by our hotel was this sweet little sandal shop,” recalled Patrickson, who worked with a cobbler to create her favorite pair of sandals before wandering off to the island beach. “I wore them to death because they were so comfy.” The experience had a lasting impression and, from there, Amanu was born. (“Amanu” is a smushed-together name that pays homage to Patrickson’s family crest and the Italian word for “by hand.”) The brand, she said, also has an eco-chic philosophy.

“We value the pursuit of less,” said Patrickson, sharing, for example, that Amanu uses brass tacks instead of glue. Also, the cobblers are instructed to use only the materials they need, contributing to less overall waste. Patrickson said she believes the footwear label’s custom approach means she “won’t end up with a collection at the end of the summer that didn’t sell.” One day, Patrickson hopes she’s able to offer a vegan shoe.

A metallic nappa leather sandal in fuchsia from Amanu, a custom sandal label started by L.A.-based celebrity stylist Anita Patrickson.
A metallic nappa leather sandal in fuchsia from Amanu, a custom sandal label started by L.A.-based celebrity stylist Anita Patrickson. Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times

“As a stylist, I have this horrible guilt because we overnight FedEx packages every day, and the carbon footprint is unreal,” she said. “I was starting to feel sick about it. It became apparent how difficult it is to be green in this industry. You want to do the right thing, but it’s hard. My clients deserve to have a rack full of beautiful things. How do I say, ‘Sorry, I’m not going to overnight 17 boxes [of clothing]?’”’

Starting Amanu is Patrickson’s small way of doing her part. Patrickson’s upbringing with an ecologist father on a farm in South Africa has influenced her approach. Amanu’s stylish totes, which are inspired by French produce bags, are fashioned using leftover leather pieces.

Seeing Amanu artisans in action easily could make a good Instagram moment as well as the earthy West Hollywood pop-up itself. The look of the intimate 710-square-foot space at 605 N. West Knoll Drive is inspired by Patrickson’s African roots with baskets from Malawi and wooden stools from the Ivory Coast. The shop’s other design details are a nod to Los Angeles with Eric Buterbaugh flowers, Pia Pack artwork and cobblers clad in custom-made Mother jumpsuits.

Patrickson said she has plans for the future of the label. The West Hollywood pop-up shop, however, will remain open through September, if not longer. Appointments are available through amanustudio.com. As for her celebrity clients and their summer footwear needs, Patrickson said, “I’m excited to get them in the store now that we’re open.”

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